Police Chief Says Public's Help Needed To Crack Unsolved Murders

By Eric Flack

(LOUISVILLE, June 25th, 2004, 5 p.m.) -- There are some troubling numbers facing the Louisville Metro Police Department: almost a 40 percent increase in murders from a year ago. On Friday Police Chief Robert White met with the media to talk about the department's plans to stop the disturbing trend. WAVE 3's Eric Flack was there.

There have been 32 murders in Louisville this year, and Police Chief Robert White has no explanation for the spike. "I'm very reluctant to take the credit for the closure of homicides and I'm equally reluctant to take the blame for the occurrence of homicides."

White says more than half of those murders are drug-related, which often leaves the search for a killer wide open. "We have outsiders coming in creating havoc and then they leave, and then we have drugs involved and people become very reluctant to give us information to help that."

Now White is pledging a full court press by the department to close the remaining cases, authorizing detective overtime, and enlisting the help of the U.S. Marshall's Violent Fugitive Task Force. "I want it to be known to those individuals that are committing crime in our community -- specifically violent crimes in our community ... that we're going to find 'em, we're going to catch 'em."

But White says police need help from the community to catch the killers in at least seven murder cases since March -- murders for which police have no leads. And White believes "somebody saw something that could actually contribute to the closure of those cases."

The department has already enlisted the help of the U.S. Marshall's Violent Fugitive Task Force. White even brought up the possibility of hiring more detectives. "If we need to add more people in the homicide unit, we need to make that happen."

But upper command staff convinced the chief to approve overtime instead of hiring new people, so investigators could work expanded hours on the cases they already have.

The chief did call on the city to encourage more programs to keep at risk kids off the street. Earlier this week, the Metro Council set aside $240,000 for such programs.

Police say two of this year's murders were gang-related, and a quarter of the victims were 20 years old or younger.

Online Reporter: Eric Flack

Online Producer: Michael Dever